Thursday, 18 April 2019

A pain in the arse

Last week, I had a pain in my upper left leg; it was so bad, and continuous, I couldn't sleep. I went to the doctor, he poked it a bit, and prodded, and told me he thought it wasn't a DVT (I had a DVT in that leg a couple of decades ago) and sent me home.

Then it faded, and I was alright for a few days.

But on Tuesday it returned. Ladysolly was out playing bridge, but when she got back, I told her that I needed to go to A&E. Because 1) it was very painful, and I was facing another sleepless night, and 2) the GP hadn't done anything. So, round about midnight, we set out for Stoke Mandeville (because they dealt with my broken ribs so well).

Again, they dealt with me very well. I was obviously not an urgent case, and while I was waiting, a couple of babies came in and they were, rightly, pushed to the head of the queue. And there was a man there who was clutching his chest in great pain. I was also in pain, but a pain in the arse isn't as threatening as a pain in the chest.

After an hour, I was triaged. After another hour or so, I saw a nurse who took my blood pressure, temperature and oxygen level. After another hours, I saw another nurse who put in a cannula and took four blood samples, and after another hour, I saw the doctor.

His opinion is that it's a trapped nerve (the blood samples came up clean). He gave me Diazepam for it (a muscle relaxer) and suggested paracetamol as a pain killer. I got home at about 6am, and went to bed.

I checked the internet for additional recommendations, and it suggested heat treatment, so I'm applying a small electric blanket, and I think that also helps.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Brexit delayed

The can has successfully been kicked six months down the road. October 31st is the new target date. So now we can procrastinate, equivocate and tergiversate until October 30th, and then go into panic mode again and ask for a further can-kicking.


What's going to happen?

The ERG Awkward Squad can now go back to being Awkward, Jeremy can point to the fact that he hasn't actually been offered any leeway, and anyway why would he want to help the Tories get free of the petard that they are hoisting themselves with, and the 650-strong clown car in Westminster can continue to be weak and wobbly for another six months.

But I can see a way out!

Revoke article 50. We've already done major damage to our economy via the three years of uncertainty, and we won't get that back.

In 2016, most people didn't know that we had a treaty with the Republic of Ireland (the Good Friday Agreement) that guarantees open borders, which can only happen if we have a customs union or a single market.

So the choices are:

1. Outside the EU, but customs union.
2. Outside the EU, but single market.
3. Inside the EU (revoke A50).

Those are the only three options, although there's minor adjustments that could be added.

So never mind how we voted three years ago. Democracy means that you get to change your mind every few years.

What's the best option, 1, 2 or 3?

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Tomtom update

On April 6th, 2019, many GPSes, including TomTom, got hit be the "Millenium bug". Sort of.  There's a 10 bit week number in the clock, and that means 1024 weeks, about 20 years. Who would have thought we'd be using GPS 20 years later? Duh.

The practical effect on my ancient TomTom XXL, is that it can no longer tell me how many minutes to go before reaching my destination, or what my speed is. This is a minor problem, but slightly annoying.

So I updated the TomTom software. That turned out to be non-trivial, of course. You can only do it from a Windows box or a Mac, so I downloaded the software, and tried to run it. It crached, of course. I tried again. Same result. So I loged in to the Windows box as root, and tried again. That worked, nd the software was installed. So I tried to run it, and it asked for my username and password, and it rejected the one I had written down, so I asked it to email me a pssword reminder. It emailed me a link to click on, except that I don't use a web interface to my email (it's just too dangerous). So I clicked on the link in the email, which showed me the URL, I copy-pasted the URL to Firefox, it asked for a new password, which I supplied.

Then I was able to run the update. I chose to also update the speed camera data, but it choked on that, so I left that out and re-ran, and it worked!

So now I have a map update, and the clock works again.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Brexit - can I see a light?

Theresa May is, at last, reaching out to Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and trying to reach a consensus that parliament can get behind. I would hope that between the two of them, they can reach an agreement, which probably means a Brexit with a customs union and "a strong relationship" with the Single Market.

This, at a stroke, solves the whole problem of the Irish Backstop. It removes the problem of the frictions in trade that a crash-out will cause. And yet it conforms to the stated requirement of the referendum - we leave the EU.

Yes, it's true that this wouldn't be as good as the deal that we have now, but 17.4 million people have rejected that, so we have to respect the referendum, and do as well as we can within that.

But. Are there enough members of the Awkward Squad (Right wing) and the Awkward Squad (Left wing) to block this? I hope not.

One very good sign, is that Nigel Farage is incandescent with rage about this. Anything that infuriates Nigel, is probably good for the country.

So let's see what happens when Theresa meets Jeremy.

Friday, 29 March 2019

MV3 rejected - now what?

The government lost by 344 votes to 286, a majority of 58. The May deal was rejected for the third time. So now what?

On Monday, the Letwin Parliament meets again. Last time they met, they looked at the eight possibilities and rejected all eight. Sigh.

On Monday, they could take most of those off the table, based on the ones that were worst, and then vote on the three most promising.

But first ... the petition with nearly 6 million signatures calling for Revoke, will be debated. I think it will be rejected, but the result will be closer than the rejections of the May Deal. Previously, that was defeated by 184 to 293. I think it will be defeated again, but not by so much.

Then the Letwin Parliament sits, and I think it will consider:

Customs union, previously defeated 265 to 271
Labour plan – previously defeated 237 to 307
Revoke article 50 – previously defeated 184 to 293

The awkward squad (the ERG) will continue to squawkward, and Farage will moan and groan, but the fact is, we need to make a decision about this, and "No deal" was previously defeated 160 to 400. Plus, it does nothing to preserve the committments we made in the Good Friday agreement.

And my best guess for what could come out of this, would be the customs union, which is also part of the Labour plan (and, by the way, it doesn't violate the Good Friday agreement). But to get there, I think May must go, new General Election, and when we have that sorted, we can decide which of the realistic options we want (and by realistic, I mean that the EU is likely to accept, not the pie in the sky of "they'll give us everything we ask for because we own the only unicorn in Europe"). So, for example, if we go for the "Norway" option, we can reasonably hope that the EU will accept it because of the precedent.

And should we have a "confirmatory" vote? A "people's" vote? A second referendum?

I think that's a really bad idea, because look what happened last time. The 2016 referendum specified leaving the EU, and the Norway option fulfils that specification. Please, let's not ask the people again.

But scrapping the May Deal and not crashing out, and having a general election, and getting a "Norway option" agreed, will take more than a couple of weeks, so while that is happening, we should revoke article 50, because there's no sane alternative (praying for time to stop isn't going to work).

Then, when we've firmed up what we want, we can invoke Article 50 again, and leave with grace and agreement, and settle down to enjoy all the unicorns that the last few years have earned us.

So who will be the next PM?

Not me, that's for sure.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

A very British coup

Rumours are swirling about the possibility of a cabinet coup to topple Theresa May.

Two problems.

First, I don't see how that's possible. Tory party rules are that you can't have two leadership challenges within 12 months, so the next one can't happen until December.

Second, I don't see how this gets us out of the mess we're in. There's still only three choices, No deal, May deal, Revoke.  The deadline is a couple of weeks away, so no time for the "Ask the people" option, and we already used the "Take half the options off the table", and we took all the options except "Revoke" away. And the anti-revokers are threatening to throw their toys out of the pram if we revoke. Or even if we do an "Ask the people".

Imagine that there is some way to have a leadership change (perhaps someone convinces May to resign). Then exactly which leader would be able to get a majority for any of those three? Even if they asked the best possible candidate (which is, obviously, me) I would say "I'll go for Revoke" and if that failed to get a majority, I'd resign.

I used to live in a sensible country, where the main controversy was about women bishops.

What happened?

Saturday, 23 March 2019

The knife panic

We are staring at a possible panic over knife crime. This has become such a serious issue  that it has even temporarily displaced Brexit in parliament.

They are talking abuot a ten year prison sentence for carrying a knofe.

I can only hope that the law as actually drafted, is not born of panic. I carry a knife; in my man bag, I have a pen knife with a one inch blade. In my car, a pen knife with a three inch blade. In my car tool kit, I have several tools, one of which is a multitool including a knife. And screwdrivers, of course, including one screwdriver which is several inches long. I would hate to be stabbed with a screwdriver.

So let's hope that the Ship of Fools, during their brief respite from voting on what sort of Brexit they don't want, are able to come up with a well-designed knife law.

Or maybe they'll only be able to decide that knife law they don't want.